The Pentagon is pulling together hundreds of officers from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to create an intelligence service called the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS). The DCS is tasked with gathering terrorist network information, weapons of mass destruction, and other rising threats. Michael Vickers, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and John D. Bennett, CIA counterpart leading the National Clandestine Service, arranged the various elements of the service. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta approved their plan on Friday, April 20, 2012.

This service will be composed of both military and civilian officers, and it will work alongside the CIA. According to Rep. C. A. Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, the DCS plans are still in progress, but it will emphasize and expand the Pentagon’s human intelligence agencies. Particularly, it will focus on gathering information through personal contact with sources, not on the interception of communications along the lines of the NSA agencies based at Fort Meade.

The Pentagon has spent the last decade focusing much of its case officers’ time on gathering information in war zones, and now they are growing the jurisdiction of its intelligence operation. An article in the Baltimore Sun quoted Ruppersberger as saying that they are, “increasing certain areas of focus,” by making sure, “there’s not duplication of effort.”

One way this plays out existentially is through the utilization of current CIA stations for undercover DIA officers to work from as they seek to gather intelligence on emerging threats. The consolidation of resources like this enables efficiency and clears away unnecessary distractions in achieving the particular aims of the DCS mission.

They are seeking global coverage, and the DCS officers’ focus will be just that. An official from the Pentagon said that, “Officers detailed to the Defense Clandestine Service will focus on gathering intelligence on terrorist networks, nuclear proliferators and other highly sensitive threats around the world.” The ability to work from CIA stations around the globe will uniquely enable them to fulfill their global coverage strategy.

In the past the Pentagon has not always rewarded clandestine service overseas with promotions, and because of this they have lost key personnel to other career paths within the Pentagon. The Pentagon is seeking to change this. The new DCS initiative is seeking to decrease these personnel losses by making clandestine work a professionally rewarding career path.

The Defense Clandestine Service acts as a catalyst for cooperation between the CIA and the Pentagon in the intelligence collection arena, and it is a positive development for the future of clandestine opportunities. Those who are seeking work in this job sector will want to keep their eyes open for the further developments and opportunities.


Noah works with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is an evangelical Christian trained in theological studies. He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and two children. You can follow him at his blog

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